National Association of Local Councils has called on the Liberal Democrats to boost their ‘localist’ credentials by handing more power to parish councils.
Speaking at a fringe event at the party’s Autumn conference in Glasgow, NALC’s chairman Cllr Ken Browse told delegates the post-Scottish referendum landscape presents a huge opportunity to devolve more power to the most local level, where England’s 9,000 parish and town councils already provide neighbourhoods, villages and towns with democratic representation and a structure for taking action to improve their area.
Cllr Ken Browse, Chairman of NALC said: “Devolution and more power to the nations must be matched with more power within the nations, to the most local level".
“Town and parish councils are the backbone of our democracy and a brilliant example of people power at a grassroots level. It is critical the Liberal democrats ensure devolution strengthens, not undermines, our most local level of local democracy".
“Some good work has been done on localism, but it’s just a start. NALC’s ‘Communities in control’ manifesto sets out the parish offer and how we can help the Government realise its ambitions for community empowerment, localism and devolution".
“Crucially it provides the Liberal Democrats with a range of policy ideas – stronger local democracy, fairer funding, more powers – to help put communities more in control of their areas and to realise the potential of town and parish councils.”
Former local government minister Sir Andrew Stunell MP said: “I've been a long term supporter of town and parish councils. Parishes can already do so many things but the scope has been widened with new powers and opportunities and I hope they take them up".
“I'd be delighted to see a new generation of town and parish councils coming forward, with even more being created.”
The fringe event was hosted jointly by NALC and the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors.